Why Christian Eriksen Would Be the Ideal Summer Signing for Borussia Dortmund
With the Champions League Final all but a speck in the rearview mirror of our journey through the football offseason, Borussia Dortmund have turned their attention to the new campaign ahead and to how to go about preparing for it.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos, the energetic Greek central defender, was a wise initial purchase from Werder Bremen as Jurgen Klopp set about solidifying his back line before seeing to anything else. The once-great defence of Dortmund wasn't quite up to scratch last season, and Klopp has addressed that well.
Yet, the spontaneous manager is well aware of his No. 1 priority this summer. If not for genuine necessity, but for the statement it would send, a replacement for the Munich-bound Mario Gotze is vital. And it must be someone worth every penny.
The search for such a player has been dripping with speculation since the season's conclusion, with Kevin de Bruyne and Heung Min Son offering initial options before falling by the wayside.
Little has come from either camp since the player's last plea for Dortmund's attention, which was reported by ESPN almost a fortnight ago, yet the deafening silence is often as telling as a wave of rumours or news stories suggesting otherwise.
Although we can't possibly confirm if the player is speaking to the Bundesliga club, the thought of the player making the move is too delicious to ignore.
Despite offering an obvious alternative to the departing Mario Gotze, the young Dane could feasibly fit in to Dortmund's system quite seamlessly with the pacey Marco Reus to his left and the energetic Ilkay Gundogan behind him—a system which was purposely built to get the best out of a player of his caliber.
Like Gotze, Eriksen's function is that of a roaming playmaker who relies upon his technical skill and intelligence to get himself through a game. This is no thundering box-to-box midfielder or poaching striker, but a player who simply glides through a defence producing a silk web of dangerous through balls.
With 23 assists and 14 goals this season, Eriksen has been directly involved in 37 goals in 49 appearances for Ajax in a campaign that saw the Amsterdam club pick up its third consecutive Eredivisie trophy. At only 21 years of age, the Danish international already holds four domestic trophies to his name.
His purpose on the pitch is to simply provide goal-scoring opportunities to his teammates. In four years at Ajax, the midfielder's goal tally has never overshadowed his assists—a stat that he should be mighty proud of—making him the perfect playmaker to sit alongside a very direct duo of Marco Reus and Jakub Blaszczykowski (and whoever chooses to play up front for Dortmund this season).
What Dortmund will need once the ex-favoured son makes his way to Munich isn't a goalscorer or even an assists man—Reus created just as many goals as Gotze this season, while Blaszczykowski offered one more—but a player who can consistently make a key pass for that game-defining goal.
At 2.3 key passes per game over the course of the season, per WhoScored.com, Mario Gotze offered 0.5 more per game than anyone else in his team, making him the most important attacking player in the side.
Yet, that stat drops to 1.7 when we consider his Champions League record (the only comparable competition both players played in). Eriksen's stands at an impressive 2.7, also per WhoScored.com—despite his club getting knocked out in the very group that Gotze's Dortmund topped.
If Dortmund need a big-game player to turn a game in an instant, Eriksen could be their man.
The comparisons to Gotze are inevitable and in many ways unjust. But in part it offers an explanation as to why this player would make the perfect summer acquisition for Klopp.
He plays like Gotze, he runs like Gotze and he sets up goals like Gotze, yet he'd be committed to Dortmund. And for a club that can quite naturally feel rather self-conscious about itself right now, that could make all the difference between a summer of discontent and that of purposeful rebuilding.
The previous regime under the baby-faced German playmaker is long gone, and in one way or another Borussia Dortmund will find a new player to take them in to a bright new age. As we've seen already this summer, the likelihood of players coming or going changes every day, but in Christian Eriksen, Klopp may finally find an exciting alternative to a troublesome past.
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